5 tips on how to Swim a great Freestyle

5 tips on how to Swim a great Freestyle
Olympian Swimmer and Arjuna Awardee, Rehan Poncha, often starts his SwimSmart clinics talking about the importance of looking good in the water. Whether you are a competitive swimmer or just swim for fitness or fun…here are 5 quick tips from the ace swimmer on how to swim a great free-style...
Hello! This is one of my favourite strokes and here are my top 5 tips on swimming a great freestyle.
  1. KEEP A STEADY HEAD: Your body does what your head decides! In life and more so in freestyle. The steadier your head is, the more stable you will be in water. The dry-land exercises I teach in my clinics help to master this technique of keeping the head steady while rotating from your hips. People are often so worried about being technically correct with their arms and legs; they forget that in this stroke, balance comes mostly from two parts of the body - the head and the hips. So conserve your energy, work on developing stability of the head, eyes looking down at the floor of the pool, body parallel to the floor of the pool, head in line with the spine with the forehead submerged.
  2. BREATHE EASY: Great swimmers look very relaxed in water. One common error I find during stroke correction sessions is that swimmers rotate their heads, very suddenly, to one side and also very high for inhalation. This not only destabilizes the entire body, it wastes a lot of energy. I like to ask if the oxygen up in the sky is different from that just above the water. Since its not, why make such an effort? When you do this, your body acts like a see saw, and your legs drop creating a lot of drag. Instead, turn on your side, and let your head rotate gently a little further until your mouth clears the water, and it's as though your head was resting sideways on a pillow. Inhale, and return to the head down position, where you exhale continuously underwater.
  3. MAKE THE RIGHT ENTRY: Your arms in freestyle should create the least amount of splash possible on entry and emerge from the water with your elbows high during the recovery. It is essential that your hands and arms enter the water, in line with the shoulder, straight in front, and not across the face. Underwater, you need to always make sure that you pull back with a high elbow, so your forearm faces backwards rather than downwards and complete the finish of the pull, not shortening the stroke and losing out on your arm length advantage!
  4. ROTATE AROUND THE SPINE: The rotation around the spine in freestyle is the basis of swimming fast as freestyle is swum on your side and not on your stomach! Good body rotation also helps your breathing because once you've rotated your body, there's not so much distance left for your head to turn and it stays more stable. And it helps your shoulders extend forward at the end of each stroke so you can reach further. This side to side hip movement is made better by strengthening your core muscles through dry-land training. If you are an advanced swimmers, drive with your hips and use your core strength to stay higher on the water.
  5. KICK CONTINUOUSLY: The legs provide balance and momentum forward with a continuous kick. To ensure maximum propulsion, kick from the hips, not the knees and keep your toes pointed to avoid drag.

When you start to work on your stroke, it may feel a little strange or uncomfortable at first but with practice you should soon start to feel much more coordinated with the rest of your stroke and enjoy it a great deal more too!

To learn more about SwimSmart clinics, you can email my team on swimsmart@rehanponcha.com

Happy Swimming!